Beaufort County school district responds to recent incidents

Beaufort County school district responds to recent incidents

BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) - The Beaufort County School Board is meeting for their quarterly work session Friday and Saturday. While these retreats are common, it's been out of the ordinary for the school district to be responding to several incidents in the past three months.

Co-founder of Citizens Advocating Responsible Education, Richard Bisi, said "It is high drama. It is very much like a soap opera, unfortunately."

Recently, school district officials responded to a picture of students dressed and saluting as Adolf Hitler at Okatie Elementary School. It was intended to be a chance for students to learn about historical figures by dressing up as their subject.

"You know what were they thinking allowing these kids to come dressed as Hitler and taking their pictures and posting them on Facebook," Bisi asked. "Where's the responsibility on the adults?"

The photo has since been removed. The superintendent says they have met with the principal and a local Rabbi to talk about learning opportunities. They also released this statement.

Moving forward, he says this will be a teaching moment.

"We understand the sensitivity of the photo being placed and can I say it'll never happen again? I hope it never happens again," Dr. Jeffrey Moss, Superintendent of Beaufort County School District, said.

There's another incident the school district hopes never happens again. Back in November 2017, the district and Beaufort County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of a teacher kissing a student on the cheek at Battery Creek High School.

The teacher was fired that month. However, the police report reveals more details.

"I think there's probably a lot of misunderstanding in what happened and what transpired that day," Dr. Moss said.

A police report from the Beaufort County Sheriff's office showed deputies concerned that the superintendent was talking with the accused teacher before investigators. This comes after deputies told other members of the school district not to.

Lieutenant Sankowski details in the report that "Doctor Moss became agitated." He went on to say "He continued to argue with me and at this time, I advised him he would be hindering the investigation if he continued speaking with the teacher."

The superintendent says words are being taken out of context from the report.

"I will say at no time did I hinder or interfere with the investigation. My role over there was to place the employee under suspension pending the outcome of the investigation which is what we do," Dr. Moss said.

Along with responding to the recent incidents, the school board is also hiring a facilitator to address internal affairs. Vice-Chair of the Beaufort County School Board, Geri Kinton, said it will cost $8,000, but defends its to find common ground. Others don't agree with this decision.

"I find it utterly ridiculous that we would spend a dime on learning how to get along," Bisi said.
"For those who are saying that we need to bring someone in to learn how to get along, we don't," Kinton said. "We all know what we need to do to get along, but a facilitator to find out how we can get beyond what we don't agree on and still work together is pivotal."

Copyright 2018 WTOC. All rights reserved.